Moving up the ranks of academic hospital medicine—from instructor to assistant professor, and especially from assistant professor to associate professor—was covered in-depth by professors Scott Flanders, MD, and Sanjay Saint, MD, MPH, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Stephan D. Fihn, MD, MPH, head of the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of Washington, in the session “How to Get Promoted as an Academic Hospitalist.”
Choose a Track
Dr. Flanders said there are several tracks within hospital medicine in academia. They include:
Clinician-Investigator: This is usually a tenure-track position, where 60% to 80% of the hospitalist’s time is protected for research. Usually, you’ll receive at least partial salary support for about three years, after which you’re responsible for finding independent funding to cover most of your salary. Retention and promotion are based on academic productivity including publications, grants, and national recognition.
Clinician-Educator: With approximately 10% to 30% of their time protected for research, these professionals usually get indefinite salary support—although they’re expected to generate most of their salary through clinical work. Retention and promotion are based on teaching accomplishments and clinical skills and, to a lesser extent, academic productivity.
Clinician-Administrator: With anywhere from 10% to 50% of their time protected for administrative work, these experienced hospitalists serve as directors, associate or assistant directors in a hospital medicine group, or in a clerkship role at a university. Retention and promotion are based on administrative skills, teaching prowess, clinical skills, and academic productivity.
Criteria for Promotion
Regardless of which track you’re on, when applying for a promotion you’ll be evaluated in these domains: clinical work, teaching, and administrative and scholarly work.
“These are universal to all institutions,” said Dr. Flanders. “You need to demonstrate excellence in each.” More specifically, you’ll need five to seven letters from impartial faculty outside your institution—preferably leaders in the field who hold at least the rank you are trying to achieve.
“Ask yourself as you get halfway between your associate and assistant professorship,” said Dr. Flanders, “who outside your institution knows you and your work.”
Steps for Promotion
Dr. Flanders offered advice on how to prepare for a successful career in academia.
“It helps if you develop a clinical niche,” he said. “Become the expert in one area in your group or institution.”